This is despite President Biden's declaration of his willingness to make "significant compromises" on the issue.
Senate Republicans, along with Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Wednesday, blocked a Democratic emergency spending measure. The bill aimed to provide funding for Israel, Ukraine, and the border, but it did not include border security measures sought by Republicans in both the House and Senate. The Republicans' refusal to vote in favor of the bill was due to the absence of additional border policy changes, particularly limits on asylum and humanitarian parole.
The White House had requested $110 billion in supplemental funding in October, which included $14 billion for border security. This funding was intended for shelter and services, hiring more officials, transportation, and resources for the expansion of expedited removal. The Democratic proposal on Wednesday incorporated many of these measures.
However, Republicans have demanded comprehensive changes to the border, including stricter "credible fear" standards for asylum seekers and restrictions on the administration's use of parole to release migrants into the interior. Some conservatives have insisted on including the entirety of the House GOP’s signature border legislation, which would reinstate Remain-in-Mexico and restart the border wall. They have threatened to derail a spending bill if it does not include these measures.
A Senate working group proposed measures largely drawn from the House GOP's bill, but these were quickly dismissed by both the White House and Senate Democratic leadership as a "non-starter."
Conversely, some Senate Democrats have stated they would only accept policy changes if they are accompanied by amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. This proposition would likely be rejected by Republicans and is contrary to the views of the Republican base.
Other Democrats are reportedly open to raising the "credible fear" standard but have ruled out changes to parole. This policy is currently being used to bring in tens of thousands of migrants each month via the CBP One app at the border, as well as by the Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan (CHNV) program. It has also been used to bring in Afghans and Ukrainians in the last year via separate parole programs.
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., emphasized the importance of the asylum standards, specifically the "credible fear" initial screening. "You’ve got to change the asylum system," he said, arguing that migrants were being attracted to the border by the knowledge that they would be released into the U.S. with a court date years in the future.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made it clear that any proposal without border policy changes would not receive Republican support. "Fixing a badly broken asylum and parole system isn’t ‘hijacking’ the supplemental. It’s strengthening it," he said on Wednesday evening. "Securing our southern border isn’t extraneous to our national security. It’s essential. I know some of our Democratic colleagues understand this."
Meanwhile, the administration has repeatedly stated its openness to negotiations and compromises, but it has also set limits on what it is willing to accept regarding any measures that would restrict asylum and parole.
President Biden on Wednesday expressed his readiness to make "significant compromises" on the border, including policy changes. "I am willing to make significant compromises on the border. We need to fix the broken border system," he said.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was more cautious, suggesting officials would not agree to anything that would undermine the United States' "international obligations." "We've presented proposals that address the situation, that provide real practical solutions and also do not do violence to our fundamental values," he said on CNN. "We are a country of refugees. We do have asylum laws. We do have refugee laws. We abide by our international obligations that are long-standing," he said. "And so that is my response to that."
"Some of the [Republican] proposals are reasonable and worthy of discussion. Others are, frankly, not," he added.
The administration has repeatedly stated it is pursuing a policy of expanding "lawful pathways" while increasing "consequences" for illegal entry, but it needs more funding and comprehensive immigration reform from Congress. Republicans have blamed the crisis on the policies of the administration, and say more border security, limits on releases into the interior, and a return to Trump-era policies are needed.
Meanwhile, some Democrats accused Republicans of not being flexible enough. "They have to figure out whether they want to negotiate or whether they want to make take-it-or-leave-it demands," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said.
However, as Washington tries to find any sort of agreement, the border remains in chaos. Tuesday set a daily record for migrant encounters, exceeding 12,000 encounters.
As of Wednesday morning, the agency has over 22,000 migrants in custody, with several major Border Patrol sectors running heavily over capacity, sources told Fox News.
Fiscal Year 23 hit a new record of 2.4 million migrant encounters, with September hitting the highest monthly total ever recorded, at over 260,000 encounters. October saw slightly fewer, with over 240,000 encounters, but that was still a record for October.